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August 2012 Archives

Concerns of Hazards of Fracking Continue to Grow, Even in Texas

Fracking for natural gas has been a long-time debate for communities all across the country, and most recently, in the town of Lubbock, Texas.

General Motors SUVs Recalled for Fire Hazard

Just this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially announced a recall that will affect approximately 250,000 vehicles. The recall stems from a defect in the driver's door module that allows water to come into contact with the circuit board. If the circuit board is compromised with water and shorts out, the power door locks and power windows will cease to function. More importantly, the defect can also lead to overheating, which in turn could melt components of the door module, producing odor, smoke, and/or a potential fire. The NHTSA investigation into this defect has determined that there have been 28 such fires reported to the governmental agency since February of this year.

Another Blow for BP

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, British Petroleum has received nearly 6,500 claims from motorists trying to recoup hundreds of dollars they spent for car repairs after receiving contaminated BP gasoline. BP has received nearly 19,000 inquiries from motorists. The company last week recalled 2.1 million gallons of gasoline from its Whiting, Indiana refinery. The bad gas has affected service stations in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. As a result of the problems, BP has checked its entire distribution system.

Are Elderly Drivers More Dangerous than Younger Drivers?

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, elderly drivers are no more likely to die in a car accident than drivers in their twenties. Researchers at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom examined UK police records on all fatal road accidents reported between 1989 and 2009. The researchers found that the risk of being involved in a fatal car accident was similar for older adult drivers and younger drivers every time they got into the car. For drivers under 29 years of age, thirteen in 100 million driving trips ended in fatality, compared to fourteen in 100 million trips for drivers over age 70. As to passengers and drivers, risk was highest at both ends of the age spectrum and dipped among middle-aged individuals.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Texting while driving is becoming one of the most common and deadly distractions while driving, especially among teens. One in four American teen drivers admit to texting while driving, and 40 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds say they have been in a car where a teen driver used a cell phone in a dangerous way. Any cell phone use, whether hand-held or hands-free, while driving is dangerous. Researchers have found that it quadruples crash risk. Just the act of dialing a cell phone increases crash risk by three times. In a naturalistic study of truckers, Virginia Tech researchers reported a 23-fold increase in risk of a crash or near crashes when drivers were text messaging.

Too Few Truck Drivers Leads to Too Many Deadly Accidents

It seems hard to believe, especially after one of the worst recessions in decades, that there would be a shortage of workers in any industry. But that is exactly the case in the trucking industry. Despite the unemployment rate still hovering around 8 percent, there are roughly 200,000 truck driver jobs available throughout the nation.

Supreme Court Favors Government Over Injured Woman

Last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court once again ruled that an injured citizen may not be compensated for damages caused by a defective road. The case was City of Denton v. Paper, ___ S.W.3d___ (Tex. 2012).

Recent Consumer Product Recalls

The Associate Press recently compiled a list of consumer product recalls for the week of August 20, 2012. This week's recall list includes millions of baby seats which are in need of repair, a line of heated pet mats which are hazardous for causing shocks, and snap bracelets. The details of this AP article can be found at: http://news.findlaw.com/apnews/d44de9fd195b40229dda1e9a515065bc.

Over-Serving Leads to Hit-and-Run Accident

The family of Kylie Doniak, a University of Texas soccer player, has filed a lawsuit against Yassine Enterprises for over-serving a hit-and-run suspect in Austin, Texas. The lawsuit alleges that Yassine's bars Fuel and Vice, over-served 22-year-old Nicholas Ray Colunga.

Road Rage in Houston Proves Fatal

Road construction, distracted drivers and pedestrians and enraged drivers are all a part of the hazards that motorists face every day. In Houston, road rage is contributing to a large number of car accidents, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Cause of Deadly Flash Fire in Hockley, Texas Under Investigation

As reported by news sources earlier this week, three men were severely injured in a flash fire that occurred at the Watco Mechanical Services facility in Hockley, Texas on the afternoon of Sunday, August 19, 2012. The fire broke out in a paint booth which was under construction at the time. According to the company's website, this facility repairs railcars. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Texas oil field worker's death highlights dangers

A 21-year-old man died last month after a drilling accident at a Texas oil field. While authorities have not yet disclosed the results of an investigation into this incident, his death is another reminder of the heightened risks of catastrophic injuries or fatalities in the oil and gas industry.

Insurance Company Motto: Collect Premiums and Deny Claims

The Associated Press is reporting on a case arising out of a June 2010 auto crash that killed Kaitlynn Fisher. Progressive Insurance Company is now dealing with wide-spread negative publicity for its efforts to avoid paying policy benefits to the family of its insured, Kaitlynn Fisher, who died in the auto collision. The case stems from the June 2010 crash in which Fisher was killed in an auto collision with Ronald K. Hope III. According to an eyewitness at the scene, Hope ran a red light and caused the fatal collision. When Fisher's family made a claim with Hope's auto liability insurer, Nationwide, Hope's insurer did not dispute Hope's liability and paid the limits of Hope's policy to the Fisher family. Fisher's family then made a claim with their daughter's auto policy insurer, Progressive, for underinsured motorist coverage (UIM coverage). Progressive denied the claim.

Drug Company Admits to Payments to Doctors

According to a recent article in NaturalNews, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly has admitted to hundreds of millions of dollars in payoffs to doctors. Eli Lilly, founded in Indiana, makes billions of dollars every year off the sale of their patented drugs, which according to their television ads will cure whatever ails you. The company, which was originally founded by a chemist in the late 19th century now has offices in 18 countries, and its products are sold in 125 countries, with revenues exceeding $20 billion annually. Most of the drugs Eli Lilly sells are available in other countries for much less than it is here in the United States. The pharmaceutical industry claims the reason is that the health care systems of other countries demand affordable medication, and they need somebody somewhere (the U.S.) to foot the research bill, so they can get the next patents lined up before others expire. Not only are we footing the bill, we have to deal with how the pharmaceutical machine warps the medical system. Recently it has become standard operating procedure for pharmaceutical giants to pay doctors and other healthcare professionals to promote their drugs. These payments influence doctors into becoming mouthpieces for a share of the drug company's bottom line and dictating which medicines you take.

Restaurant Agrees to Pay $1.1 Million in Wrongful Death Action

According to the Associated Press, the parent company of a Charleston, South Carolina restaurant has agreed to pay $1.1 million to the family of Quentin Miller who was killed in a drunk-driving accident caused by one of the restaurant's employees.

Texas Traffic Fatalities Drop But Not Enough

A state audit of the Texas Department of Transportation reported that Texas traffic fatalities have decreased almost 15 percent since 2006. The audit report stated that in 2010 Texas saw 3,028 traffic deaths and about 234 billion miles of driving. According to a formulation used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for evaluating road safety, that equates to 1.29 deaths per 100 million miles driven in Texas. This rate fell in comparison with 1.5 deaths per 100 million miles traveled in 2006. National fatalities per 100 million miles fell from 1.42 in 2006 to 1.11 in 2010; this is a 21.8 percent drop.

Jefferson Parish Jury Awards $24.2 Million for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

A Jefferson Parish jury has awarded a woman $24.2 million in damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories and Hospira, Inc. Jurors found that her toddler son, 3 years old at the time of surgery, was left with irreversible brain damage after an infusion pump malfunctioned during his surgery in March 2005 at the Jefferson Highway hospital.

Galveston ferry drowning shows maritime hazards

A Texas woman died after she fell from a ferry running between Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island on July 24, 2012. While the cause of her death is unknown, this accident emphasizes the risks of maritime transportation.

Houston Chronicle Highlights the Supreme Court's Removal of Texans' Rights

In an article on the first page of the "City & State" section of Friday's (8/10/12) Houston Chronicle, writer Patricia Kilday Hart exposes the loss of rights Texans have undergone due to the Texas Supreme Court's extremist "tort reform" efforts to protect businesses from bearing responsibility for their misconduct.

Psychiatrist's Motives Questioned in Wrongful Death Suit

Brian Harvey, the husband of Phyllis Harvey, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mrs. Harvey's psychiatrist alleging negligence, fraud, fraudulent concealment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mrs. Harvey's psychiatrist, Dr. Alexander Bystritsky, is accused of causing Mrs. Harvey's death by prescribing her dangerous combinations of drugs that altered her heart rhythm. Bystritsky began treating Harvey in 2004, five years after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and early dementia/schizophrenia. None of these diagnoses were ever fully confirmed by tests.

The Dangers of Plastic Gas Cans

A large percentage of United States households own at least one gas can. Plastic gas cans represent 95% of all gas cans sold in America which based on these statistics means that most of us at one time or another have either owned or used plastic gas cans. Due to the risk of ignition of gasoline and other fumes, a safety feature was invented 200 years ago. The cost of this feature is $1.00 and has been widely used on many products and has effectively prevented explosions in metal gas cans for the last 100 years.

Restaurants and Bars Can Be Held Liable for Intoxicated Patrons and Employees

A recent lawsuit has been filed against Rick's Cabaret for the wrongful death of Katherine "Emily" Jones, a Conroe teen. Jones, a senior at Caney Creek High School, was killed by a drunk driver in a fatal car collision on March 30, 2011. According to the suit filed by Emily's family, the bar's company policy encourages and rewards workers for selling as many alcoholic beverages as possible. That policy, according the family, contributed to the death of Emily Jones.

Most Dangerous Jobs: Fisherman and Farmers (Part III)

A few weeks ago, we blogged about the inherent dangers that miners, loggers and construction workers face in their day-to-day jobs. When you think about people that face death in their jobs, fisherman and farmers may not be the first thing that pops to mind.

Demographics Are Not Reflected in Harris County Juries

Juries in Harris County do not reflect the demographics that makeup its population. Most people think that the diverse population is key to the jury makeup but the truth is that judges and lawyers play the largest role in deciding who stays and goes from juries. Winning cases is what motivates lawyers to remove or keep members on the jury.

Stuntman's Death Prompts Wrongful Death Lawsuit

According to the Associated Press and Reuters, the parents of stuntman Kun Liu have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the producers Nu Image and Millennium Films. Kun Liu was a stuntman killed while working on the action sequel The Expendables 2, which has a global release date of August 17, 2012.

Nurses and Hospital Employees Hit Hard in the Wake of Texas West Oaks Hospital v. Williams

Recently, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on the case, Texas West Oaks Hospital v. Williams, and in the aftermath, nurses and healthcare providers across the state have been adversely affected.

Offshore Drilling and Oil Operations Lag Behind in Safety Improvements, Says Chemical Safety Board

The massive explosion at BP's oil refinery in Texas City in 2005, which we recently blogged about, led to safety measures being taken at chemical plant and oil refineries throughout the nation. But similar safety measures were not taken at oil drilling and other gas operations offshore. This was readily apparent after the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010.

South Texas Truck Crash That Killed 14 Likely Caused by Tire Malfunction

The truck crash that claimed the lives of 14 people in South Texas just a few weeks ago likely occurred because of a problem with one of the truck's front tires.

Missouri Supreme Court Rejects Med Mal Caps

The Supreme Court of Missouri issued an opinion rejecting medical malpractice caps, which are limitations on the amount of money that can be awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Deborah Watts filed a medical malpractice suit alleging that her son, Naython Watts, was born with disabling brain injuries because Cox Medical Centers and its associated physicians provided negligent health care services. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Watts and awarded her on behalf of her son $1.45 million in non-economic damages and $3.371 million in future medical damages. The trial court then reduced the non-economic damages to $350,000 as required by law.

Gas Safety Valves Might Have Prevented More Than 400 Injuries, Had They Been Used

What would you think if someone told you that over 271 pipeline accidents could have been prevented (or seriously contained) all for about $15 a piece? What about if it cost $300 a piece? What price do you put on the safety of more than 400 lives?

Bone Cement Leads to Wrongful Death Suit

The family of Lois Ekind has filed a wrongful death suit against Synthes, Norian, and Dr. Bart Sachs of the Texas Back Institute in Plano. Lois Eskind died on January 13, 2003 when she went into cardiac arrest moments after bone cement made by Synthes, a then subsidiary of Norian, was injected into Eskind's spine.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

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  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

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